3 Easy Steps to Repurposing Wall Art

Making old art beautiful again…

Affiliate links included throughout this post.

3 Easy Steps to Repurposing Wall Art

Today I’m going to show you how I repurposed old 1960’s reproduction art into a rustic farmhouse display that fits into my decor. And I’ll also show you how my repurpose is multi-functional — I can still display the original seascape by removing my distressed wood background. You can easily do this with most any piece of canvas art in your home. A great idea if you like to change your vignettes each season, and you want some versatility with your artwork.

 You probably spotted this in my fall home tour yesterday. But like most pieces that I repurpose…there’s always a backstory.

Fall Mantel 2015

I give vintage pieces a chance before I paint them. I evaluate a piece by moving it around in different vignettes just to see if it could work. Then I think on it…

This purchase was all about the frame. Sorry for any art purists out there, I realize this DIY may not sit right with some, but I was desperate for some art over my mantel that was the right size. For $14.99 I couldn’t pass up the frame, but I wasn’t too sure about the artwork. And it was pretty smelly with some water damage.

Turner Art BEFORE

This reminded me of 1960’s art from old motels. So I did a little research and found out…I was right!

My family doens’t hold back when it comes to first impressions:


“Ew!” – my husband, (biting his tongue trying to be nice. He’s smooth like that.)

“I think it’s PRETTY” – my 11 year old

“Reminds me of vacation,” – my 15 year old

My response?

Chicken Feeder Summer Home Tour @SnazzyLittleThings

It hung above the mantel for about 6 months. To be honest – the seascape started to grow on me.

Even this piece deserved a chance. And I don’t like to be a “quick draw” with the paint brush. I enjoy creating contrast and juxtaposition when I decorate. I mix old with new. Weathered beat up wood, next to something shiny and bright.  Light against dark backgrounds.  Dark against light backgrounds.  And in this case, seedy motel art mixed with a classic background :)

After awhile, the verdict was out. We didn’t love the gold frame, but we wanted to salvage the art. Maybe someday we’ll decide differently. But for now, that’s the direction we’re going.

Ok, so now the paint brush was calling my name.

Step 1: I taped off the edges, then drybrushed the frame with Martha Stewart Chalk Paint – just enough to highlight the embellishments. I’ll be honest I was dying to do this for months, I don’t have a lot of gold in the house, and I knew it would be beautiful.  One drybrushed coat is all it took to make it “pop”.

Upcycling Art Painting the Frame

Above: taping off the image so that I could paint the frame

The paint I used:

410YQCtbwzLPlaid Martha Stewart Vintage Decor Paint, 8-Ounce, Smoke (affliliate links included throughout this post)

Step 2:  Using a tape measure or exacto knife, cut large piece of paperto fit perfectly over the canvas. I recommend these large rolls of paper that actually serve as a background in photography. Here is the one that I used:

Pacon Fadeless 48X50 Weathered Paper, Wood (0056515)

Step 3:  If you want a permanent solution, you can carefully Mod Podge this piece right onto the old canvas, but keep in mind that there is no going back once you Mod Podge. It’s permanent.  In my case, we only wanted to cover the seascape temporarily. So I sprayed the back of the paper with repositionable adhesive spray, and tacked it down onto the canvas once it was sprayed (I did not spray the art itself, only the paper).

Repurposed Art Applying Background

It fit like a glove, and I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it already was.  We talked about the options and what to do next.  Vinyl appliques might work, but I opted for a 3D effect by hanging a floral wreath off the back. I created the wreath using floral found at Walmart. Hung it in the center, then rehung the art over my mantel.

This worked much better than the gold and blended with the rest of my room decor.

After Repurposed Art by SnazzyLittleThings.com

Up close shot of the finish. The best part is this can be repurposed again by removing the faux wood / paper cover.

Repurposed Art by SnazzyLittleThings.com

So. My kids are happy. I’m happy…my husband is definitely happy.

And if we ever need our seedy hotel art fix, we can always remove it and display it again, in all its original glory.

Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. oh wow! that is the perfect use of an old framed piece of art! And I just love how you still took care of the painting itseld. Very clever! I just love old frames, and the solution of placing a piece of weathered wood paper in it is just perfect! Thanks for sharing;)

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Tone, I’m glad you found it helpful :)

    2. Jeanette,just found your blog and am so amazed at your talent! I have a large gold frame that is too gold…….I would like to tone it down without ruining the frame could I use the same paint you used on your frame to accomplish that ? Thanks for the ability to subscribe to such a helpful,lovely blood as yours.

      1. Shirley welcome! And thanks for the compliments. I am thinking that any paint will probably “ruin” a frame especially if it’s something you really like, but just want to tone down the brassiness. However, I would maybe try mixing the patina with other metallic paints (several variations) closer to the color that you want. Then you can dry brush (like I did in this tutorial) in layers. Make sense? I will email you also to see how I might help. Happy to have you here with us!

    1. Laura, I appreciate you taking the time to comment…have a great day!

  2. Wonderful tutorial – thank you so much!

  3. Cheryl Foley says:

    I love this! You are so inspiring

    1. Cheryl, you are too sweet…thanks for stopping by to comment :)

  4. Very cool, I have a stack of old prints and frames in the garage, but I’m running out of wallspace. This is a great idea, with cork behind it, could be a fab message board. And chalkboard paper would make it a fab chalkboard. Good ideas, now to my stash!

  5. oh my, oh my! first time to visit your blog. had to go back and forth over each frame 3-4 times to take in all your lovely details, my brain was soooo excited!! signing up right now! Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much Ruby! I’m glad you’re here!

  6. Oh, I love this. You are very creative. Where can the paper be found? I have never heard of it. Thanks…Rebecca

    1. Hi Rebecca! The link where you can find the paper is right under the photograph (of just the paper). Hope you’re able to find some maybe the craft stores in your area will have it.

  7. Brilliant. It looks fab. you took a teensy bit more care and time that needed, in my humble opinion, caring for the original artwork. I’m sure you could paint something just as fabulous right over that old art if you wanted to. This really makes your mantle look sweet.

    1. Thank you Darla…I appreciate you taking the time to comment. :) We like the change, but eventually will enjoy changing the art back again to the original.

  8. Hi Jeanette, I have almost the same picture that I paid $1 for in a garage sale. So far it has been used as a photo board when my partner had a milestone birthday. Have you seen the artworks which have typography over the top of old seascapes to make them something new? I was trying to find one to put a link but I can’t locate one now. I think that’s what I might try with mine next.

    1. That paper is the BEST! I used it sometimes for a backdrop for photography, but it was too pretty to hide in my craft room. Thanks for stopping by to comment :)

  9. Wonderful transformation! Great tutorial! Pinned to try. Have a great week :)

  10. Hello. I just saw this post on Hometalk and I know it’s a stretch but is there any chance your ocean scene is signed Carrasco or Betty or maybe BCarrasco? That whole set up looks (painfully) familiar as something that hung in my living room as a child. B Carrasco is my grandmother.

    1. Oh how sweet. I checked front, back, behind, under…and no signs of her name. I am pretty careful about that stuff. :)

  11. Love this idea Jeanette – the papered back looks so real! The wreath hanging in front looks perfect with the barn wood back. I’ll be taking a second look at those dated framed artwork during my next thrift store jaunt. Thanks for the inspiration ☺

    1. Thanks so much Marie! We love that it’s versatile for all seasons. I appreciate you stopping by to comment.

  12. I love the finished product here! I’m a sucker for anything rustic and I just love that it’s faux wood. I’m definitely going to keep this project in mind the next time I go thrifting.

  13. this is amazing! I thought it was real wood and thought that a clever enough idea but lots of work. where do you get that paper? I will reread post in case it says.
    thanks for great idea.

  14. I see you did put link for paper you used. thank you.
    Is that light enough to use as wrapping paper too?
    thanks so much

  15. I love what you did, but I love the painting more. The exact one hung in my grandparents house, and I always loved it as a child. My grandma gifted the painting to my uncle who lost it between moves.
    If you have any inclination to sell it, I would be interested.
    Thanks so much!

  16. Shelly Brabble says:

    I love this, where did you get the wreath?

  17. Hello! I have two large brown frames that housed Tuscan style prints. I am desperately trying to get away from Tuscan but don’t want to go all grays and whites (Hubby hates that). I’m trying to figure out how to repurpose the frames and this idea looks promising. I’m sorry to say I’m not very crafty, though. I apologize if this should be obvious but how did you hang the wreath? I’m enjoying your site very much! Thanks!